Emperor goes home to recover


Emperor Akihito was discharged from University of Tokyo Hospital on Sunday after completing his rehabilitation from heart bypass surgery, the Imperial Household Agency said.

The Emperor, 78, was put through stair-climbing and equipment-based workouts to rehabilitate his heart after undergoing surgery to ease his angina on Feb. 18.

Dressed in a suit, the Emperor proceeded slowly to the hospital exit accompanied by a relieved Empress Michiko and Takashi Kadowaki, a senior doctor from the Imperial Household Agency. The Emperor smiled as he accepted a bouquet from hospital staff and waved repeatedly to the more than 100 patients and visitors in the lobby as the couple made their way to a car for the ride back to the Imperial Palace.

The Emperor’s doctors said he needs a week or so to rest before returning to his official duties, but agency officials said he has high hopes for attending the state memorial service for the March 2011 disaster victims in Tokyo next Sunday.

The decision on whether to attend will be made by the Emperor and the agency after monitoring his progress, they said.

Ichiro Kanazawa, the agency’s main doctor, said at a news conference Sunday that he believes the Emperor is in currently good shape to participate in the memorial service but will have to rest until the end of the month once its over, he said.

The Emperor is still dealing with liver dysfunction, low blood protein and insufficient appetite, but Kanazawa said he was expected to experience these symptoms and is improving.

Crown Prince Naruhito, his eldest son, and the Empress will continue to cover for the Emperor in affairs of state for the time being, the agency said.

After showing signs of restricted blood flow to his heart, the Emperor underwent a diagnostic test in mid-February that showed narrowing in some of his coronary arteries.

A team of doctors from the University of Tokyo Hospital and Juntendo University Hospital performed his bypass surgery.

It was the Emperor’s first surgery since 2003, when he underwent an operation for prostate cancer.